Thu 15 Mar 12
I'm in Melbourne! More precisely, I'm in a suburb of Melbourne called Ormond, staying with my awesome friend Neil, who some of you will know. I can't believe I've been here a week already - it's gone insanely quickly. There's been lots in the way of food, bars, and alcohol - what better way to celebrate the start of my time in Australia?!
Ormond itself isn't a very busy suburb, but they have a great local bar ('On Top') that has a roof garden and does some delicious food and from what I hear some pretty cool open mic nights etc. Ormond itself reminds me of a slightly old-fashioned America in some respects. It's difficult to explain why it feels that way - wide roads (3 lanes each way) and large open shop fronts have something to do with it I think. I'll have to get a picture up on here so you can make up your own minds.
The weather has been pretty nice so far - almost like Summer's still hanging around. Today it's more overcast with some light showers, but due to be sunny again next week. It seems you never can tell (reminds me of England!) and they say that you can have four seasons in one day here - minus the snow that is! Still, a couple of gloriously sunny days have meant I've picked up a bit of a tan - here's hoping the good weather stays with me as I move up the coast in a few weeks. I get the feeling that we might be chasing summer, but we're bound to catch some good days.
As I said, quite a bit of my week here has been spent in restaurants and bars. In part that's been due to a long weekend (Monday was Labour Day and a public holiday for most), sunny days and birthday celebrations; in part it's also down to that holiday feeling :o)
I arrived last Thursday and despite getting practically no sleep on the flight from Singapore, I managed to stay awake into the evening, which got me onto 'Melbourne-time' pretty quickly and was probably the best move. Friday night we went out to Abbotsford (another suburb of Melbourne) to a restaurant 'Lentil As Anything' (or Lentils as it's locally known). It's a non for profit organisation and it's all veggie/vegan food - you help yourself to the buffet, bring your own alcohol, and donate however much you want to. Good food, and definitely a place worth knowing when I'm low on cash!
On Saturday I went into the city with Neil to pick up a few things for our separate forthcoming road trips. As with most cities, especially on long weekends, it was pretty busy with people bustling about everywhere, so we didn't hang around, but grabbed some lunch and a couple of drinks at an outside bar with furniture essentially made out of crates and oil barrels. Not in a bad way - it had a very relaxed atmosphere, although you wouldn't necessarily want to be there when it's raining! In the eve we went into Brunswick (yup, another suburb) to have some drinks with Neil's mate Lucy in celebration of her birthday, who moved over here at the same time as Neil. Met some new Melbourne friends and sat in a few beer gardens (accompanied, of course, by the obligatory beer).
Sunday was mostly a recovery day, but we did take a train out to Fitzroy (suburb) for a couple of drinks in the afternoon / early evening. TO make up for the alcohol we went for a run on Monday morning before heading out to Ellwood on the bus and taking a lovely walk along the coast to St Kilda. Very picturesque and some nice views of Melbourne from the walk as you head towards St Kilda.
In St Kilda we met up with Lucy again as it was her actual birthday, along with her boyfriend Tyson, and her friend and neighbour Katherine (from California). Our run and walk deserved congratulations so had a few drinks with them in the sun then had a little sit down near the beach as the sun started to go down.
Tuesday and Wednesday Neil was back in work, so I've been productive and signed up for an Aussie bank account, registered with Medicare (Australia's NHS) and registered for a Tax File Number (TFN) which I'll need when I start work. I also took a visit to the Visitor Centre in the city which has loads of great information about Melbourne, and I was able to pick up a map of Melbourne and Adelaide in preparation for my drive to Adelaide to see my Dad's cousin Jeff and his wife Sandra. I'll be heading off on Monday for a 3-day drive along The Great Ocean Road (apparently well worth it) and up to where Jeff and Sandra are.
Until then, we'll probably be doing a bit more local sightseeing and (inevitably) some more drinking. Neil's officially on holiday now - his friends from home Nick & Kate arrive into Melbourne today after a few days in Sydney and they'll all be off on their own road trip up to Brisbane on Monday too. We're heading off to the airport soon to meet them so I'll sign off and leave you with some (rather lovely) pics of the sun setting in St Kilda.